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Taking a Rest with Parkinson’s Disease

rest

My youngest grandson fought his daily naps. My oldest grandson, on the other hand, loved naps so much that when they rolled around, he would ask if it was “time for sleeping yet.” Needless to say, when the time came to sleep, they both woke happy and rested — most of the time!

When my youngest grandson woke from his naps, he almost always had a smile on his face. Within 30 minutes of waking up, he would say right out of the blue, “I’m happy.” It didn’t take going to the store with Grammy and buying a new toy. It didn’t take going to the ice cream shop and licking a chocolate ice cream cone, or a strawberry cone, or a chocolate mint cone. It didn’t take spending an hour playing with other kids at the park and laughing together.

He simply had a much-needed nap.

When we live with chronic illness, it can wear us down and wear us out. It can happen to the person with the disease or it can happen to the caregiver. We get discouraged, grumpy, and tired, and often end up feeling like not doing much of anything. When we have Parkinson’s disease, our sleep is jeopardized already, just for different reasons.

Sometimes all we need is a good rest to correct our perspective. Sometimes all we need is a good nap so we can wake with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit.

Rest can come in the form of a good, old-fashioned nap, or it may be sitting in the backyard and listening to the birds sing. Maybe it’s taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood or sitting in a comfortable chair and reading a good book. It could even be closing your eyes and praying.

Everyone has different needs. What works for you may not work for me. I may opt for listening to the birds instead of reading a good book. But when we take the time to rest like we so desperately need, no matter the method we choose, it is easier to say, “I’m happy.” 

Right out of the blue.

There’s so much to be happy about. Sometimes all we really need is a fresh perspective.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Taking a Rest with Parkinson’s Disease appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Holding On to Happiness, but Not Too Tightly

happiness

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The H in the CHRONDI Creed refers to happiness. Happiness can be an elusive thing when battling a chronic disease like Parkinson’s. So many things can get in the way of experiencing happiness: pain, deep fatigue, irritability, the time consumed by the disease, and grief accompanying things stolen by the disease. Trying to hold on to even small moments of happiness is challenging. However, it is possible to experience moments of happiness in the face of chronic disease if one trains the brain to hold the moment gently — not too tightly.

Happiness is a state of mind and includes a broad range of phenomena, such as gratitude, inspiration, accomplishment, beauty, awe, laughter, compassion, tranquility, joy, love, exhilaration, ecstasy, and bliss. The experience of happiness can have a connection to one (or several) of these phenomena. Before you finish reading this column, let’s take a mental excursion together.

Visualize in your mind the last time you were happy and try to feel how you felt at that time. Try to hold the moment gently. Pause now to do that before reading on.

Were any of the above phenomena part of your memory? Remembering happiness is helpful in reminding us what it felt like and of what the experience may look like again. It can help us to see it in the smallest of moments throughout our lives. It is not a practice of grasping after happiness. Happiness is like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. We take in the beauty and the rich, sensual experience and hold it gently in our mind. If we were to grasp the butterfly, we would destroy the experience.

Gently holding happiness without grasping is tied to a compassionate way of being. So much of our unhappiness is tied to grasping, to misperceptions, objectification, and poor communication in relationships. The practice of compassion is about experiencing the needs of others and then moving beyond suffering to a place of well-being. It is a shift in perception and out of suffering. Walking the path of the compassionate warrior is filled with happiness experiences accompanied by the knowledge of empathy, shifting perceptions, and shared well-being. Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” wasn’t happy until he experienced a shift in perception and became compassionate.

I don’t expect to experience happiness all the time. That’s just too unrealistic for where I am in my personal development as a compassionate warrior battling a chronic disease. I seek small moments each day, not by grasping for them but by looking for them, like looking at the butterfly, and then gently holding the moment in my mind. Then, I am very grateful for that moment and not sad when it naturally fades into the next experience as part of the day. This feeling of happiness is not induced by drugs or alcohol (which bring fake happiness and negative consequences). It is a happiness that comes from the practice of allowing the mind to experience both the large and small moments of happiness. I do my best to begin and end each day with a confirmation (a mantra or a prayer) of specific gratitude — not a statement of general gratitude but one aimed at something specific in my life. Gratitude is a way of holding the door open for those happiness moments.

Perhaps happiness brain training can be very helpful for those suffering from PD because of the link to dopamine production. I haven’t seen any research on this, but I find the practice to be quite helpful. What do you think? Are there methods you use to bring happiness into your life? Share them in the comments. Let’s pool together a collection of happiness tools for our readers.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Holding On to Happiness, but Not Too Tightly appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

The CHRONDI Creed: A Guide for Parkinson’s Warriors

CHRONDI Creed

The challenges of any chronic disease require the mental attitude of a warrior. Like the code of the samurai, the CHRONDI Creed is both a guide for battle and for living.

CHRONDI is an acronym from the first letters in the words chronic disease. The letters stand for each part of the creed as follows: C – compassion, H – happiness, R – rehabilitation, O – others, N – nature, D – death, and I – individuality.

Following is the CHRONDI Creed and its self-affirming dialogue. This is followed by a description of each self-affirming statement in this chronic disease warrior’s creed.

C – Compassion: I will act compassionately toward others and find gentleness toward self.

H – Happiness: I will seek the inner bliss of happiness that is not material in nature.

R – Rehabilitation: I will apply courage and mindfulness to my part in fighting the disease.

O – Others: I will genuinely communicate to others my experiences and maintain an attitude of gratitude for their help.

N – Nature: I will take time to embrace nature and all its beauty.

D – Death: I will find the courage to face the terror of “death” (loss) and not let it control me.

I – Individuality: I will continue to express my individuality and my purpose, beyond the disease.

These CHRONDI Creed statements are short “I” statements that not only can be self-affirming, but also they can change how a disease affects one’s life. If these statements become an inner dialogue, a way of thinking and acting, then they can contribute to quality of life.

Compassion as a way of thinking and acting is the foundation of the CHRONDI Creed. It is a state of being that is expressed both externally and internally. In the face of chronic disease, this is certainly difficult. But it doesn’t have to be perfect saintly compassion. It can start with small steps, such as taking the time each day to do something for someone else. In addition, this sense of a gentle kindness can be applied with a kind word to self, such as: “You did well today.”

Happiness is not tied to material things, although it may appear to be. Rather, happiness is tied to an internal state of being often connected to events, not possessions. We are happy because we feel happy. A state of bliss can accompany times when an event generates ecstasy — a bliss of happiness. Happiness is an important part of well-being in the face of chronic disease. Returning to the bliss can be as simple as finding things we enjoy and taking time to laugh out loud.

Rehabilitation means that we will do our part to support all treatment modalities that are used to fight the chronic disease.

The term others stands for all relationships in our lives. The statement is a promise to speak in an authentic manner with a sense of gratitude.

Nature, and all its beauty, when incorporated into life can make a difference in our well-being. A stroll through the woods or a park while maintaining a quiet mind can add to our quality of life. Gardening is also therapeutic.

Death” has quotes around it because it refers to the death of those things the disease has taken and will continue to take. There is “terror” in facing this “death.” Terror management takes courage and practice to find a calm center in the middle of the storm.

Expressing individuality is balanced against the time used by the chronic disease, the thought and emotion that the chronic disease consumes. Find your inner voice, your unique identity, and your purpose. Let that light that is you continue to shine forth.

The CHRONDI Creed is a list of statements I have used to help me as a warrior against the ever-worsening effects of Parkinson’s disease. Not for a single day can I achieve a level of perfection with all aspects of the creed. Perfection is an illusion, perhaps a nightmare. Rather, I hold these statements as an inner dialogue, a path to follow, a gentle guide for living. It is in this way that the CHRONDI Creed improves my quality of life.

How does the CHRONDI Creed sit with you?

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post The CHRONDI Creed: A Guide for Parkinson’s Warriors appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Dancing for Dopamine

music, dancing, visual hallucinations, antipsychotics

Sherri Journeying Through

I have been starving for music lately. I am not great at technology stuff, and my husband has much of our media set up so that if I get ahold of the remote control for the music-player thingy, it’s safe to say my husband will soon be working on bringing our technology stuff back to life.

But the other day, I decided to brave it while he wasn’t home because, as I said, I was starving for music. And not just any old music, but some good ol’ Steven Curtis Chapman-style music. Some Chris Tomlin-style music. After finally getting Alexa (the other woman in our home who is technologically very friendly) to finally stop taking a survey from me, and me screaming “ALEXA, STOP!” at the top of my lungs for 10 minutes, I somehow finally got a song to start playing.

During my starvation period, I had begun to feel down. I know that Parkinson’s can assist in making your blue days even bluer, and mine were becoming a dark blue. I wasn’t about to give up hope and decided to put on some music while my husband visited the dentist as I watched my 3-year-old grandson.

For the most part, I cannot play music softly. I have to crank it up and feel it. I’m not talking about the music that my brother used to listen to on the way to school. You know, the kind of music that leaves you shaking out of your skin because the volume is so loud, the drums reverberate inside the speakers, and the electric guitars screech as screech-ily as they can. This was not the kind of music that researchers say relieves the symptoms of depression or eases pain. This was not the kind of music that others say benefits our physical and mental health in many ways. No. This was the kind of music that you don’t want to listen to when your blue skies have turned to gray.

I was reading an article today that said it was recently discovered that dopamine is released when you are listening to music (specifically NOT heavy metal/techno or the like). It also showed that dopamine levels are up to 9 percent higher for those who listen to music. It was also noted that music can increase your focus levels.

After I read that, I cranked up my little techno helper Alexa, and after about six tries, she started playing a Steven Curtis Chapman song. Chapman has never let me down when he sings. He always plays the right song at the right time. Finn (my 3-year-old grandson) came into the kitchen where I was and started dancing. I picked him up and we danced together and he giggled and giggled. And I didn’t know it while we danced across the kitchen floor, but my dopamine levels were very happy. And that made all of me very, very happy.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Dancing for Dopamine appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source: Parkinson's News Today